Partners announce return of Cleveland to Seattle flights
By Terry Troy
Score another victory for the JobsOhio Air Service Restoration Program. JobsOhio along with partners Team NEO, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Destination Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland have inked a deal with Alaska Airlines to secure the return of daily air service from Cleveland Hopkins International (CLE) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Service is slated to begin next summer and will continue year round.
The new route will provide travelers in Northeast Ohio with not only nonstop service to Seattle, but also one-stop access to Alaska Airlines’ expansive network of destinations in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, such as Portland, Spokane, Vancouver, Anchorage, and Fairbanks.
JobsOhio was instrumental in securing the new route with the JobsOhio Air Service Restoration Program which was established in 2020 to provide Ohio’s commercial airports the opportunity to work collaboratively through public and private partnerships to retain and restore air service opportunities for economic development.
Over the past six years Cleveland Hopkins airport staff have been in discussions with Alaska Airlines to bring additional service to the Cleveland market. Cleveland Hopkins informed JobsOhio of the opportunity with Alaska Airlines and JobsOhio began discussions with the airline to explore avenues of community support.
Citing the strength of the CLE market, the airport’s better-than-average COVID recovery rate, and exhibiting the benefits of serving Cleveland with a revised 2022 airport incentive program, Alaska Airlines decided to move forward in serving Cleveland in September.
The new air service will have an estimated total economic impact of $111 million and represents an annual increase in seats of 116,070. Each flight will have: 16 first class, 24 premium, and 138 economy seats
Alaska Airlines is the fifth-largest U.S. airline based on passenger traffic and is one of the most popular U.S. West Coast air carriers. Headquartered in Seattle, Alaska Airlines has expanded significantly to serve several transcontinental U.S. East Coast routes, following the merger with Virgin America. The airline has also expanded internationally, with service to Costa Rica, Canada, and Mexico.
For its part, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was opened in 1925 and was the first municipal airport in the country. It brings $11.7 billion to the Northeast Ohio economy, generating more than 34,000 jobs. Alaska Airlines will join CLE’s nine passenger and four cargo airlines.
The JobsOhio Commercial Air Service Restoration Program provides Ohio’s commercial airports the opportunity to work collaboratively through public and private partnerships to retain and restore air service opportunities for economic development. The program was established to assist business attraction and retention efforts across the state by providing support for air service in qualifying markets where airlines have canceled or are planning to cancel service.
Earlier this year, JobsOhio announced that it entered into an agreement with Breeze Airways in two Ohio markets, Akron-Canton Airport (CAK) and John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH).
The Alaska Air announcement comes on the heels of Allegiant Airlines’ announcement last month that it will move out of Cleveland Hopkins at the end of 2021. Earlier this year, Cleveland Hopkins also announced that it would be seeking to make major restorations to its facilities.